20 Questions with Comic Artists: Neil Brun of Fat Bassist Comics

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We are back once again True Believers with another legendary 20 questions segment.  Today we have none other than Neil Brun of Fat Bassist Comics. You can check out his site here.  http://fatbassist.com/

Neil Hails to us from our friendly neighbor to the north, O’ Canada, much like our highly esteemed Co-President Kim Belding of Picpak Dog Comics.  Those guys up there are putting out some first rate comics so do yourself a favor and check out some of our international comic artists from here at the Root Beer Party.

Neil at won the famous dance off against our fellow Root Beer Party member James Boyd of Sunny Side Up comics by making what has become one of my favorite comics of all time.

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The execution of this gag is just perfect.  Well done Neil and now let’s get on with what you came here for, the interview with Neil Brun.

Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
One fateful day while caring for my son back in April 2015, he jabbed my in the eye with a plastic giraffe. Being the modern parent that I am, my first thought was to make a post about it on Facebook, when it occurred to me that it would be much funnier if I had an illustration to go with it. That’s basically where it all began. By Xmas that year, I had made around 25 strips, and so I decided to start up a website and started doing 5 strips a week (spoiler alert: I no longer do 5 strips a week).
Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?
My favourite comic has always been Calvin & Hobbes. I also loved The Far Side and Herman. That being said, my older brother, who goes by the handle Electric Gecko and does the webcomic Puck, has definitely been my biggest influence. Watching his humour and characters develop over the years has been very inspirational.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I’d probably go with Dad’s root beer. It isn’t easy to find up here in Western Canada, so whenever I do see it in a store I have to buy it because it’s such a rarity… like a frothy, malt-flavoured unicorn.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I’d love to eventually have enough strips to self-publish a collection. I just think it would be a cool thing to have and to be able to give away as gifts to my family and friends that have supported the comic. Until then, I just hope to make a few people laugh and form some friendships with other like-minded cartoonists.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I work for a small architectural firm which is fun, creative work. I also (as the name suggests) play bass in a number of bands, and have been performing all kinds of music for over 20 years. Fat Bassist originally was going to be a music-based website (which would have made more sense, really) and I parked the domain with that intention. I ultimately gave up the idea and started making stop-motion cartoons on Youtube (most of which I’ve taken down because they’re terrible) and eventually started drawing comics under the handle “Fat Bassist” and it just kind of stuck.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I’m just a hobbyist. I’m far from a professional anything.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I decided when I started out that I would love for my son to one day be able to read my comics so I try to keep it pretty PG-rated for the most part. I basically avoid content that I wouldn’t want a child to be reading (even though most people not born in the 1980’s or earlier probably wouldn’t get most of my jokes anyway).

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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I draw everything on my old iPad Mini using an app called “Sketch Club”. I originally downloaded it just to have something to doodle on to teach my son numbers, colors, etc. but I’ve actually found it to be more than adequate for my simple, cartoony style.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
Apart from reading a lot of comic strips and taking the odd cartooning class as a kid, I don’t really have any training to speak of.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
This one time I did a strip about Hawkins Cheezies (a Canadian version of Cheetos that I love dearly) and I emailed it to their head office. A week or so later they sent a reply email which could be paraphrased as “Um, yeah… thanks for that. We’re, um… glad you like our product enough to make a weird comic about it.” I also just recently did a comic about Reading Rainbow and the official Reading Rainbow Twitter account actually liked it. These are the moments I live for.

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Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
I started out doing 5 strips a week plus a bonus voting incentive comic for Top Web Comics, so really 6 strips plus working full time, playing in a bunch of bands and raising a family. After 4 straight months of trying to keep that up, I had completely burned out and almost quit altogether. Thankfully, I ended up just taking a couple weeks off, and since then I’ve slowed down my update schedule to around two strips a week, and I’m happier and healthier for it.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If so, where?
None so far.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Too many to list here… if you visit my website (shameless plug) I have links to a bunch that I really enjoy. My very favourite webcomic is Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Architecture and music, while big parts of my life, mostly involve working with others. I love making comics because they are a reflection of myself as an individual. In that sense, the webcomic gives me a unique feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment I don’t get from my other pursuits. I have no plans to stop anytime soon.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
In the immortal words of Matthew Wilder, “Nobody gonna break-a my stride. Nobody gonna slooowww meeee dowwwwnn… OH NO… I got to keep on mooooovin”. I’m pretty sure Mr, Wilder had web comic trolls in mind when he wrote that song.

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Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
After burning out a couple months ago I’ve been hesitant to commit to a fixed update schedule. My day job provides me with plenty of stress and deadlines so I don’t feel the need to inject such things into my webcomic – I want it to remain something I do for fun and only for fun. I find the best motivation for me is just reading comics that are way funnier than mine, which is great because there are literally thousands to choose from.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
When you live in Canada, something you learn to get used to is falling in love with American food and beverages, only to have them suddenly discontinued and taken from you in a sudden, traumatic fashion. The worst case of this I’ve ever experienced was with Tahiti Treat. Growing up there was a vending machine at the art school my brother and I went to that had Tahiti Treat, and I have strong, fond memories of drinking it while playing with clay and watching National Film Board cartoons***. Then, one day…. it was gone. Just… torn from my life. I’ve been trying to to fill that void with inferior fizzy beverages ever since.
***Note to American readers: I highly recommend checking out the NFB as a hub of great Canadian animators and cartoonists. Richard Condie is one of my favorites.

 

(You can check it out here: https://www.nfb.ca/  – Editor)
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I am happy to say that I am indeed a member of the root beer party! In fact The Old Man in my Stomach now makes a appearance on the latest version of the party collage! Thank-you for welcoming me!

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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
For me it’s my own limitations when it comes to drawing. I’m particularly bad at drawing facial expressions and often feel like the words coming out of my character’s mouths don’t match their faces. It can be frustrating when I have an great idea for a gag, but the punchline is visual in nature and I know before I even start that the end product will be disappointing. Simply look at my brother’s comic (www.puckcomics.com) and then mine… it doesn’t take a genius to see who got all the artistic talent in our family.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving webcomics or anything else going on in your life?
I feel like the gag-a-day format works well for me right now, as it gives me the freedom to try tackling different subjects and scenarios to see what clicks with my sense of humor. Eventually, though, I’d like to work towards trying a story-based humor strip with a cast of characters to explore.

And there you have it True Believers, another 20 questions interview, the Root Beer Party brings you all the information that you want to know.  You demanded it and we deliver.  Check out Neil Brun’s webcomic as well as his brother’s comic Puck http://www.puckcomics.com/

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So until next time True Believer’s may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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